From The Coordinator: Slower Tempo Is Welcome

Linebacker Ryan Simmons played 85 plays last week against Texas Tech. Cornerback Kevin Peterson, who missed the last series, was on the field for 84 plays against the Red Raiders and safety Jordan Sterns said he played 95 snaps, including some special teams. None of those guys are asking to play less.

"You have to look at it as not less reps, but a chance to have more quality opportunities to make plays," said defensive end Jimmy Bean of playing Iowa State this Saturday, a team that will huddle and will not push the pace like Texas Tech did last Thursday.

There is no doubt that will help as a major concern voiced by head coach Mike Gundy and shared by defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer is the amount of action the top players on the depth chart on defense are seeing especially since many of the backups are greener than a Granny Smith apple.

"We have done a good job if that is what Jimmy Bean said," Spencer concluded. "That is the Jedi mind trick that we have worked on with our players. We ask them what play 89 will look like and we say when we turn on the film how will play 89 look.

"You know that is what they train to do, to play those snaps, and when you accomplish something like that, it's hard to do then you can really take great pride in playing those snaps and doing your job. That harder it is, then the more you can take pride in it."

There is also the issue of players getting injured and that happens when players are tired. It wasn't the issue with cornerback Ashton Lampkin as his ankle injury took place early in the game and had nothing to do with fatigue. His absence can certainly create some fatigue as a freshman in Ramon Richards has to play a lot of high caliber football at a pace greater than he knew while playing quarterback in high school last season.

"You do it long enough to realize that's part of the game," Spencer said of injuries. "As long as it's a physical game, which it is, injuries happen. That's why it's so important to recruit, and that's why there's 85 scholarships. You have to have depth to have really good seasons. Only time will tell if that will happen with us. What's most concerning is this next game, with being able to function and get stops with the 11 we have on the field."

While they may not be high tempo in operation, Iowa State has an offense that put up 28 points on a Baylor team last Saturday that has defended well. They scored point for point with Kansas State in a 32-28 loss earlier this season.

The Cyclones may be 1-3, but they have been competitive, and the offensive coordinator was a nemesis at Kansas and OU in Mark Mangino.

"Coach Mangino is a very good offensive mind," Spencer said. "You can see it every week. They spread it out. The spread set is their favorite formation with three wide. The quarterback broke a couple of long ones against Baylor, and last time I checked Baylor has some good speed. One that he kept, nobody gained on him. He went 40-something yards and they couldn't catch him. He's a competitor. He'll get knocked around and he'll gain some yards on you with his legs.

"They do a good job in the passing game of scheming it up. Their run game hasn't got on track yet, but they have able backs that will make you miss. We have to shore up some tackling issues we had last week against Tech. If we continue that, it won't be a nice day out there."

Leave it to Spencer, he's a worrier and he will worry about something. But his defense has faith in him and the defensive staff and he has faith in them.



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